Russian police have reportedly arrested around 20 LGBT+ activists in who were protesting in St Petersburg on Monday (May 1) against the brutal persecution of gay men in the southern republic of Chechnya.
According to Reuters, journalists on the ground witnessed several gay activists being bundled into police vehicles after holding demonstrations at the side of the city’s May Day parade celebrations.
The group were protesting against the ongoing situation in Chechnya, where over 100 gay men have reportedly been detained and tortured in ‘camps’ over the last few months as part of a devastatingly brutal crackdown against the LGBT+ community.
At least three men are known to have been killed, while Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov has reportedly said he plans to wipe out the region’s gay population by the end of the month.
На первомае в Петербурге задержали акцию в против убийства геев в Чечне pic.twitter.com/uV202NGD4b
— Dave Frenkel (@merr1k) May 1, 2017
Russian activist Igor Kochetkov told Reuters that he was among a group of 10 being detained in a St Petersburg police station on Monday, and that that another 10 had been transferred to a second location.
“I was waving a rainbow flag, and was shouting ‘Kadyrov should go to the Hague’,” Kochetkov told the agency by telephone whilst in detention.
Another activist who took part in the March explained that it was virtually impossible for people in Chechnya to draw attention to the abuse because of the danger they face.
“It is hard for them to say ‘Hello I am Chechen and I am persecuted in Chechnya’ because they have relatives there,” Alexei Nazarov told Reuters TV.
“Unfortunately there is pressure not only on gay people but also on their families. And it is very dangerous.”
Russia has faced calls loud from the international community to bring an end to the violence currently taking place in Chechnya.
A Russia Foreign Affairs minister confirmed to Yahoo News’s Katie Couric last week that an investigation into the situation was currently taking place, though she seemed reluctant to comment on the issue further.
Katie Couric asked a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman about the torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya.
Her response is telling. pic.twitter.com/WOpZNCeDjJ
— Raymond Braun (@raymondbraun) April 28, 2017